Radical cheerleading

The Resistin Radicatz, a radical cheerleading group, do a cheer in front of AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington before joining the Million Worker March at the Lincoln Memorial.

Radical cheerleading is a form of cheerleading performed at demonstrations that combines elements of non-violent direct action and street theater.[1] It originated in 1996[2] in Miami, Florida,[3] and there are now many radical cheerleading squads in the United States as well as Canada and Europe. Radical cheerleaders reappropriate the aesthetics of cheerleading, sometimes in an ironic fashion, and use cheers that promote feminism and left-wing causes.[4] Radical cheerleaders subvert gender norms through costuming and may be male, transgender or non-gender identified.[5] Feminist magazine director Lisa Jervis places radical cheerleading within a tradition of playful feminist comment on popular culture.[6]

Radical cheerleaders often perform at demonstrations and will lead protest chants.[7] They also often perform at feminist and other radical festivals and events. Radical cheerleading is used at demonstrations to promote a radical message in a media-friendly, people-friendly way. It is also used to support the actions of other activists who put themselves at physical risk and to denounce infiltrators and opponents. Radical cheerleaders may also perform on stage at music venues, to bring political issues (as well as entertainment) to an unsuspecting crowd. Chicago's Lickity Split cheerleaders frequently used this tactic.

One of the most notable radical cheerleading appearances was at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC on April 25, 2004. The cheerleaders had their own feeder march and bloc within the larger march with over 2,000 participants. The group's purpose was to raise awareness about the lack of access low-income women have to abortion clinics.

Radical cheerleaders are often anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist. Their cheers are usually written from scratch or by rewriting the words of popular and historic songs. Radical cheerleaders dress in diverse ways but often wear a combination of red or pink and black.

Some radical cheerleaders make pom-poms using garbage bags by folding them in half, tying off one side with a rubber band and then cutting strips from the other end.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Radical cheerleading.


  1. Lee, Rosa (2006). Why Feminists Are Wrong: How Transsexuals Prove Gender Is Not a Social Construction. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corp. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4257-1467-3.
  2. Bobel, Chris (2010). New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. pp. 121–124. ISBN 978-0-8135-4953-8.
  3. Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (November 14, 2003). "Radical Cheerleaders Raise Ruckus". CBS News. Retrieved September 7, 2009. Aimee Jennings, who now lives in New York, said inspiration struck after demonstrations at the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago
  4. Grindstaff, Laura Anne (2009). "Cheerleading: The Gender Politics of Contemporary Cheerleading". Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. Los Angeles: SAGE. p. 126. ISBN 978-1-4129-0916-7.
  5. Adams, Natalie Guice; Bettis, Pamela (2003). Cheerleader!: An American Icon. New York: Palgrave. pp. 36–39. ISBN 978-1-4039-6184-6.
  6. "The End of Feminism's Third Wave: The cofounder of Bitch says goodbye". Ms. Magazine. 2004. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  7. Atkinson, Joshua D. (2010). Alternative Media and Politics of Resistance: A Communication Perspective. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 126–128. ISBN 978-1-4331-0517-3.
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